Growing up in El Salvador I was always hearing stories of how the gangs threatened business owners and regular people to pay for their well-being and if they didn’t, they’d pay with their lives. My friends who lived near the river would tell me how they’d find dead bodies floating around and how someone they knew was murdered by the gangs for the smallest things such as having a nice pair of shoes. This is something that still surrounds the country and if you report to the police, they won’t do anything; gangs govern within the country.
I’d speak with my parents every Sunday and I’d tell them every detail of my life such as my friends, school, home, and what my friends and I have seen. Like any other parent would, they wanted me out of that environment.
My parents had tried to accomplish their “American Dream” and bought a house in the U.S., but ended up losing it during the 2008 market crash. A few years later, they decided to buy a house in El Salvador. The day the purchase was going to take place, my uncle was kidnapped. The gang that took him asked for the money that was going to be used to buy the house. Luckily, my uncle came out of that alive, but the money was lost, and the threats kept coming, only this time, I was the target. My parents got a call in the U.S. The person on the phone asked for a weekly payment for my safety. They knew everything about me such as the school I went to, what time I’d go in and out, and even the bus I’d take to school. This is when I knew I had to leave and go to the U.S. at age 13.